In this episode, ServiceCore sat down with Veronica, the Executive Director of the PSAI, to chat about the many ways they help Portable Restroom Operators grow their businesses and network with other PROs from around the world.
Wendy: Hey, Wendy Cross here in the ServiceCore studio where we produce ToiletTalk. What’s ToiletTalk you’re asking? Good question. So, ToiletTalk is a conversation series that we have created here at ServiceCore, where we’re going to sit down with industry leaders to talk about topics that will help the portable restroom operators increase productivity in their businesses. These conversations will help you get more done and stress less, which we can all use. In our first session, today, we’re joined by Veronica Crosier, who is the current Executive Director of the PSAI. She started in that role last fall, fall of 2021. And Veronica comes to the PSAI with a long history in this industry. Her family owns and operates Crosier Sanitary Service in southern West Virginia. They’ve had this family business for 60 years. So Veronica knows a thing or two, about the ins and outs of this industry. And we’re thrilled to have her with us here today. We’re going to have a great conversation. Follow me back into the studio here and we’re gonna get going right this way. Veronica, what do you think of the inside of our brand-new ServiceCore portable restroom studio?
Veronica: I love it. Wendy. It’s actually a lot bigger than I expected.
Wendy: Right? I had no idea I was I was pleasantly surprised myself by the size that we have to work with. So thanks for joining us today. Really appreciate it. To have you kick off our first session of ToiletTalk. So, let’s start at the very beginning. You are with the PSAI; the executive director. What is the PSAI?
Veronica: Yeah, so PSAI (Portable Sanitation Association International). It’s an international trade association for folks in the industry, for operators of portable sanitation companies, but also for suppliers and manufacturers of industry-specific tools like ServiceCore. PSAI, our goal is really twofold as an association. On the one hand, one of our highest priorities is to maintain and constantly be improving the industry standards and best practices internationally. It’s a way to make sure that we’re helping operators provide quality service and also keeping their employees safe and running a successful company. So we do that through education through networking. And by actually creating and maintaining standards that are held in certain countries, we actually maintain the US standards, and then we collaborate with international groups to help create international industry standards. On the other hand, we also work really hard to improve the public image of the industry. Anyone who’s been involved in the industry or even just on the periphery of the industry is highly aware of the tropes and stereotypes and misinformation that can come with the portable sanitation industry. So it’s really our goal to help the public understand how valuable and important the service is all the work that goes into providing a clean and safe place for people to go. And, and also the huge, the huge part to play in places that have experienced national disaster, that are underdeveloped and may not have access to indoor plumbing or other sanitation. So really just helping people develop the respect that this industry really deserves. PSAI, we actually just celebrated our 50th anniversary back in February. And right now we’re kind of on the verge of some some big development, I think to last year at TSA, I was able to hire an association management company, which means we were able to more than double our staff capacity, which is going to allow us to really focus on increasing some of our existing programs and take some time to look into how we can improve.
Wendy: What’s fantastic that’s a that’s a lot of information for a really great organization. And I know that you know you somewhat touched on this but you recently last fall became the new executive director of the PSA I share with me a little bit about your family’s background and how that connects you to the PSA.
Veronica: Yeah, so the portable sanitation industry has been the backdrop of my life since I was a child My grandfather actually started Crozier sanitary service in the early 60s. So that family company is still running strong today operated by my parents. And they’re coming up on their 60th anniversary. When my grandpa got started, that was when the industry was just taking off. So you know, those plywood units with 50 gallon barrel drums, handmade for the for the tanks. And it just kept growing from there. My family became members of PSAI, back when I was just a child. And so some of my earliest memories and where my fondness for the association comes from, is attending the nuts and bolts, education conferences, trade shows, and you know, just being in awe as a little kid walk here on the trade show floors and seeing the big trucks on the equipment. So it’s been the dinner table talk at family dinners. It’s been the phone calls I overheard sitting in the back of the car when my parents were driving us places as kids, it’s just been the backdrop of my whole life. So it feels really appropriate, and has brought me so much joy to be able to kind of come full circle and be a part of the industry in a way that that uses my skills and experience so far.
Wendy: That’s fantastic. Thank you for sharing. And I know I may be a little biased with working alongside of you, in our volunteer work with the PSAI. But it certainly makes it very appropriate that you are quite the wonderful fit for the PSAI right now and moving forward. So let’s talk a little bit about that. In your opinion, what are the top three benefits of PSAI membership,
Veronica: Top three benefits… There are so many I could name but I would say the biggest ones that every member can count on benefiting from one, it’s going to sound very simple. But honestly, it’s the networking. And that is the main reason most people join a trade association is for that network and that community. When someone becomes a member of PSAI, you are immediately getting connected with some of the biggest operators in the country and some of the biggest worldwide. People who have been in the industry for decades and decades, no matter what size or industry is. People have been members of PSAI and who’ve been working proactively when committees or board to advance the mission of our association to improve the industry. So you immediately are going to be elevating your own business just by joining that network, it is going to save people so many, so many moments where they would have to learn something the hard way they can skip that and just get one to running a successful business. So networking is huge. And of course, we never know what a new member is going to bring to the table. So we’re always getting those fresh perspectives. The second would be our education opportunities, education is huge. I guarantee we’ll touch on education again, sometime in this in this conversation. PSAI, we offer several courses, most of which are approved for continuing education credits in the states that require them. And we also offer our basic service tech training series, which is a three part course that prepares individuals to become certified service techs and certification is required in a lot of states in the US too. So we already have that preparatory course, and a certification program that is approved in the states that require it. So that’s a huge way even if your state doesn’t require certification or continuing education, those same programs are just a really solid, reliable way for you to onboard new staff and help make sure that your employees are adhering to the best standards of safety and customer service. And if I had to pick a third one, this is for people that have a true passion for the industry. And so for people who are new in business, maybe this comes later for you. But the third big benefit is having the ability to influence your industry. PSAI is a very hands on very active Association. We have over 10 active committees at any given time, that are working on anything from public image to standards and guidance, members business success, so how can we help our members continue to thrive, and so on. And our our board of directors is a working board which means that our volunteers are constantly making sure that we’re staying on track with our vision that fresh ideas are coming in, and that the association is always being steered in the way that best serves its current membership. And I think that’s really important. Very important.
Wendy: And we’ve definitely had a couple of interesting years in, in the world, and in many industries, but especially in the portable sanitation industry. What are some of the trends that you’re seeing now with members, you know, now that we’re in 2022, and have kind of weathered the storm, as it were? What are some of the trends that you’re seeing?
Veronica: Yep. So now that we’re basically on the other side of the pandemic, we’re starting to see the aftermath of that, and how it’s affecting a lot of our businesses, this past six, eight months has really been managing fuel costs. That’s been a huge impact for our drivers who are who are delivering units and that sort of thing, but then also for manufacturers that are trying to ship supplies. So fuel costs has been a huge challenge. And that’s been a topic that’s been trending and continues to be a hot topic for the last several months. Some places are starting to see a little bit of a decrease in fuel costs, but it’s still so exorbitant, so we’re trying to provide information and strategies to help companies manage that. Of course, that is part of a bigger picture, supply chain issues. We’ve been seeing that challenge for close to a year now. But backup on supply chains still ongoing. So we’re trying to educate our operators and our wonderful supplier members have been hugely helpful in this educating our operators on when to buy How to Buy how to plan ahead, knowing that the supply chain issue could be ongoing. The third trend, though, is a little more positive, those ones are more trending challenges. But the third trend I’ve noticed from within this association, is actually more and more folks reaching out about mentorship opportunities, which I think speaks highly of our association and the kind of people that this industry attracts. Not all associations, members are keen to share information or what they might call industry secrets. But the portal sanitation industry is very open and very supportive and embracing of new people coming into the industry. So it’s it’s been very heartwarming to see more people reach out about how can I be mentored? Can you help connect me with someone that can provide you some guidance as we get on our feet? And not only getting the ask, but seeing our members reciprocate thing? Yes, we would be happy to jump on a call and chat with you. Here’s my contact information here when you need me. So I’m glad that people are seeing that that is another benefit that you can take advantage of with PSAI, not just waiting for our in-person events.
Yeah, that’s fantastic. I mean, we’re all in this together. Right. So let’s do what we can to help lift each other up. So that leads me to kind of another topic, you know, as we’re talking about PSAI and membership, and you know, having more and more members to offer, you know, this support to each other and learn from what do you think it would mean? If the PSAI would be able to double its membership? Oh, my gosh, that have not only for the PSAI, but really for the industry as a whole?
Veronica: Yeah, well, Wendy, the first thing we’d have to do is have a huge celebration, that would be incredible. The thing is, we have an amazing core group of members a pretty large membership. But there’s still so many industry leaders out there and operators that don’t know about PSAI or haven’t joined yet, so we can easily double our membership. And I think some of the biggest benefits we’ve seen right away is the ability to improve the availability and amount and quality of the education that we offer. That increase in membership would allow us to expand the course offerings right now we focus a lot on our service technicians and educating those, but we would love to start working more on professional excellence, more of the business side of starting and running a company and the other positions that are so important to our industry, and then being able to produce those those same education opportunities to be available on demand. that would that would be amazing. Of course, doubling membership that would allow us to increase our volunteer capacity. So we can tackle more projects at once or go to greater depths with the projects we’re already working on. We have an incredible base of volunteers that are so, so helpful and many of our volunteers once they serve on one committee, they want to serve on several but you know, eventually you get stretched thin and to double our membership will just allow us to take on so many more volunteers and really increase the kind of creativity in the way that we’re spreading our message. Suraj to be able to increase the size of our events, we have a fantastic trade show. But there’s always room to grow. And I would love to see our trade show be the trade show for portable sanitation.
Wendy: I agree. I 100% support that. So let’s talk a little bit. What are you excited about for the back half of 22? And what’s in store for 2023?
Veronica: Yeah, so anyone that’s been following PSAI knows that the end of the year means that we’re getting close to our annual nuts and bolts Education Conference, which we have been hosting annually for a very long time, only missing one year for COVID. This fall, starting November 1, but a tradeshow will kick off in San Antonio, Texas a pretty nice place to be in November. Yeah, we have some great keynote speakers lined up, we will be doing a site visit, which has always been unexciting part of the nuts and bolts conference. But last year, we weren’t able to do that just part of COVID Didn’t work out for planning. But this year, the site visit is back we’re going to be taking every single attendee to Texas disposal systems in Texas, they have not only state of the art portable sanitation operation, but also fully integrated recycling and landfill center, and an exotic wildlife ranch that we do see as well. So. So for any operators thinking how they can expand, they probably haven’t considered bringing wildlife onto their site. So we’ll see how that works.
Wendy: Yeah, worth noting, though, for sure. Right? Yeah, that’s great. I know, I myself, I’m really looking forward to San Antonio, and obviously seeing everybody but definitely touring Texas disposal systems, because that’s pretty impressive. So what’s the number one tip you would share with our listeners that they can start doing today in their businesses to help them grow?
Veronica: For sure, I would say the number one tip, Wendy, especially for those who might be new in business, or who are who are small operators, is to not shy away from embracing technology and the software’s that are available to you to increase your industry’s productivity. I feel like especially when you’re a small operation, it’s easy to get stuck just making your own Excel sheets for everything and doing a lot of things like invoicing manually. And at this point, our industry there are so many industry specific software’s and technologies out there to help streamline that work for you. Even if your operation is small, and now I would say embrace the technology and keep a growth mindset assume that your company is going to be successful and that it will be able to grow as big as you want it to. And don’t wait until you need those systems to start using them have them in place so that when when the growth starts happening, it happens naturally. So that’d be my number one tip, no matter your size, or scale, or your goals jump into the technology and software.
Wendy: Yeah, I would. I would agree with that and coming from you know, previously myself working for an operator company and you know, seeing the ins and outs of of how that the day to day goes, embracing technology, helping your you know, help yourself to make your work more efficient, a lot easier and a lot less painful. You can focus all this energy on, you know, what else could we do next? How could we expand what we’re doing and and that’s that’s just a great mindset for anyone to have. That’s
Veronica: Absolutely, there’s so many other ways to get creative in this industry. I would say don’t spend your time doing this the more tedious route work you know the software is already there that can help
Wendy: do it for you. Yeah, there’s there’s plenty out there to choose from, you know, do your due diligence, but it’s in your best interest to continue with that growth mindset for sure. So and now that you know I had been an operator and now I’m you know working with ServiceCore here and I absolutely love you know, this company and and the work I get to do you know, such as this with you. So, ServiceCore believes so heavily in the PSAI’s mission and value and what it does for our industry as a whole, so wholeheartedly that we are going to be sponsoring the first year of PSAI membership for up to 10 of our customers per quarter. So that means we get some new folks who are signing up with ServiceCore to start using our product. We believe so heavily in the PSAI and its benefits that you know, we’re going to be personally sponsored during their first year of membership, encouraging them to get involved, see everything that there is to, you know, be offered to them from the PSAI for, you know, fellowship, mentorship, education, all of that stuff. So how can other suppliers help the PSAI elevate the industry as well?
Veronica: Yeah, there’s lots of ways. And first, I just want to thank ServiceCore for all of you will have been so proactive in supporting PSAI. And that means so much, so I’m excited to see those new members and to welcome them to the association. But for our other suppliers. The the most simple first step is just thinking about being a sponsor for PSAI. And you can go big and sponsor some major aspects of some of our events like the nuts and bolts education conference, or our annual convention and trade show, which will take place in February. There’s tons of sponsorship opportunities there. But you can also share information just within your own client database as well. One thing that we’re going to work on encouraging more of our suppliers to do is to actually look through their own client database and see who are psci members, we PSAI, we have the messaging and the marketing materials available. And we would love to encourage our suppliers, if they believe in the PSAI mission like ServiceCore does, we would love to help them get that opportunity out to their clients. I feel like when that invitation comes from a voice that is already trusted. So when a client gets that invitation from service corporate they already worked with and trust, it means so much more, even if they’ve already heard that message from PSAI, just having that come from a source they’re already comfortable with. So I would really encourage suppliers. If you want to support PSAI, something that wouldn’t cost you a penny would be to just reach out to us, let us help you create some marketing materials that you can just share with your clients and just invite them share your experience with PSAI, and why you think they might be interested in joining, we just be happy to have that message spread far and wide.
Wendy: Amen to that I agree completely. I think it’s it’s meaningful, easy enough, you know, lift for all of us suppliers in the industry to you know, think of someone that we know would really benefit from a PSAI membership, and, you know, modest, you know, financial cost to help, you know, support that first year of membership and take it and grow with it.
Veronica: And when he just like you mentioned ServiceCore is going to be sponsoring some members. I just want to point out that’s something that any supplier can do we allow any supplier to sponsor a new member for up to one year at a discounted membership rate, just as a way to free to do a kindness to your clients and for us to have an opportunity to show them what this association can do for them and how they can be more involved in their industry.
Wendy: Absolutely. All right. Well, Veronica, again, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time today to join us here in the ServiceCore, toilet studio, and have this great conversation. I see plenty more of these happening between us as time goes on. So I just want to thank you again very much for your time.
Veronica: Absolutely. I can’t wait to be back in the studio with you soon. Perfect. Thanks.